Birthday: April 12, 1916
Sun Sign: Aries
Also Known As: Beverly Atlee Cleary
Born in: McMinnville, Oregon
Famous as: Writer
Height: 5'2" (157 cm), 5'2" Females
Spouse/Ex-: Clarence Cleary (m. 1940; his death 2004)
father: Chester Lloyd Bunn
mother: Mable Atlee Bunn
children: Malcolm James Cleary, Marianne Elizabeth Cleary
U.S. State: Oregon
education: University of California, Berkeley University of Washington
Beverly Clearly is an American author. She is one of the most famous writers of children’s books. Her characters such as ‘Henry Huggins,’ ‘Ribsy,’ ‘Ramona,’ and ‘Beezus,’ were synonymous with the growing ages of children of the United States. Cleary started as a librarian in a children’s library, where she helped the young ones to select books suited to them. This interaction with children helped Cleary to realize that children longed to read about characters that had lives similar to theirs. The concept of literary realism was new in the days when she started writing. Cleary found a way into the minds of children through the realistic and humorous portrayal of the life of children from middle class families. All books written by her were set in the neighborhoods of Grant Park in Oregon, where she spent her childhood. Her first characters were a boy named ‘Henry,’ and his dog, ‘Ribsy.’ Later, she included other characters, and diversified her books, always focusing on the day-to-day lives of ordinary children. Her books are loved by the young and old alike. Beverly Cleary won several awards and accolades for her books. She is currently leading a peaceful life in a retirement home, in Carmel Valley, California.
Childhood & Early Life
Beverly Cleary was born Beverly Atlee Bunn, on April 12, 1916, in McMinnville, Oregon. Her father was a farmer, and mother was a schoolteacher. She had no siblings. Cleary spent her childhood in the rural areas of Yamhill. When she was six years old, she moved to Portland, along with her family. Her father secured a job as a security officer in a bank, in Portland.
City life was difficult for the young Cleary. It affected her studies. She was placed in a group of difficult learners. The school librarian helped Cleary to find books suited for her, and she made considerable progress. When she was in sixth grade, one of her teachers suggested that she should become a writer of children’s stories. Cleary graduated from the ‘Grant High School,’ in Portland.
In 1938, Cleary graduated from the ‘University of California,’ with a ‘Bachelor of Arts’ degree. She did odd jobs as a seamstress, and chambermaid, to fund her college studies. In 1939, Cleary earned a master’s degree in library science, from the ‘School of Library and Information Science,’ at the ‘University of Washington.’
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Beverly Cleary started her career as a children’s librarian, in Yakima, Washington. Later, she worked as a librarian in the ‘U.S. Army Hospital,’ in Oakland, California. During her tenure as the children’s librarian, Cleary interacted with the young readers. She found that children loved books with ordinary characters that they could relate to. In those days, portrayal of realism in literature was rare. This inspired Cleary to write stories for children.
In 1950, Beverly Cleary published her first book, ‘Henry Huggins.’ It was the story of an ordinary boy called ‘Henry,’ and his dog, ‘Ribsy.’ The book narrated several funny incidents in the life of ‘Henry.’ It was based on Cleary’s own childhood experiences, and the information she gathered from the readers at the children’s library. The simple and humorous way of story-telling attracted young readers. It was a huge success, and was translated into several other languages.
After the success of ‘Henry Huggins,’ Cleary started writing stories about other characters such as his friend, ‘Beezus,’ and her sister, ‘Ramona.’ In 1952, she published the book, ‘Henry and Beezus.’ From 1950 to 1964, Cleary wrote several books in the ‘Henry Huggins’ series.
In 1955, Cleary published her first book that concentrated entirely on the ‘Quimby sisters,’ which was titled, ‘Beezus and Ramona.’ The character of naughty little ‘Ramona’ had a lot of admirers. This caused Cleary to concentrate more on ‘Ramona.’ From 1955 to 1999, she wrote several books in the ‘Ramona’ series. Many of them such as ‘Ramona the Pest,’ and ‘Ramona and Her Father,’ were highly popular among readers. Several books in the series won awards such as the ‘National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.’
In 1965, Beverly Cleary published the book, ‘The Mouse and the Motorcycle.’ It narrated the story of a mouse named ‘Ralph,’ who befriended a boy named ‘Keith.’ This book was followed by others in the same series, ‘Runaway Ralph,’ and ‘Ralph S. Mouse.’ Some of these books were televised too.
In 1984, Cleary authored the juvenile epistolary novel, ‘Dear Mr. Henshaw.’ It was the story of a young boy, ‘Leigh,’ who struggled with his parents’ divorce. He wrote letters to his favorite author, which ultimately helped him to cope with his problems. The book won the ‘Newbery Medal.’ In 2007, the ‘National Educational Association’ named the book as one of the ‘Top 100 Books for Children.’
Beverly Cleary has penned two memoirs. Her first memoir, ‘A Girl from Yamhill,’ was published in 1988. The second memoir, ‘My Own Two Feet,’ was published in 1995. In 1975, Cleary won the ‘Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,’ from the ‘American Library Association.’ In 2000, she was named as the ‘Library of Congress Living Legend,’ for her contributions to the field of literature. In 2003, Cleary was awarded the ‘National Medal of Arts.’
In 1940, Beverly Cleary married Clarence Cleary. The couple met during her stay in Berkeley, for university studies. As they belonged to different sects of Christianity, their marriage was opposed by her parents. The couple eloped and married.
Cleary has two children, Malcolm, and Marianne. Her husband passed away in 2004. She is currently staying in a retirement home in Carmel Valley, California. In 2016, Cleary’s hundredth birthday was celebrated.
Portland’s ‘Grant Park’ has a ‘Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden for Children,’ where sculptures of ‘Henry’ and ‘Ramona’ can be seen. The ‘K-8 School’ in Portland, has been renamed as the ‘Beverly Cleary School.’